Social Science Research

Biology of Human and World of Viruses projects integrate front-end, formative and summative evaluation with a social and cognitive science research agenda to guide our outreach programs and deliverables. Our cognitive research studied novice and expert mental models of viruses, vaccines, and the causes of infectious disease. Our social science research explores youth engagement with science comics, how science identity in adolescents changes over time, and how science identity is related to social relationships and inequality.

More specifically, our Science Identity study involves surveys of middle school youth to measure perceptions, attitudes, experiences, behaviors, and social interactions about science. Using online surveys involving a single school community we gathered data from youth four times over two years (approximately 500 students each wave).

We studied middle school youth because this is a time when many lose interest in science. Additionally, middle school is a time of considerable identity change. A core component of the study was on friendship networks, an important component of emerging adolescent identities, Our longitudinal study contributes to research on changes in science identity and science engagement during middle school years. In addition to conducting basic science research, we also evaluate how exposure to science outreach activities is associated with science identity.

A multitude of research consistently demonstrates that less privileged youth, including girls and minorities, are not as likely to persist with science interest and engagement. Using a sociological framework, the Science Identity study explores how engagement with science and the development of science identity reflects more than innate interests and propensities. We expect several characteristics, such as science enjoyment, engagement, interest and relevance, to shape how youth’s social location (e.g. gender, social class, race/ethnicity) is associated with outcomes such as seeing oneself as a science kind of person and wanting to pursue a science career. Our study also examines how grit, self-esteem, social interactions, and perceptions of significant social others (peers, teachers, parents/guardians) encourage or discourage science identities over time. Analyses of this rich data set are currently in progress. Our research findings, shared through presentations and publications, are posted on this website.

 

Research Teams

WORLD OF VIRUSES

Amy N. Spiegel, Ph.D.
Research Associate Professor
Center for Instructional Innovation, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

David Uttal, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology and Learning Sciences, Director
Multidisciplinary Program in Education Sciences, Northwestern University

Benjamin D. Jee, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Psychology
Rhode Island College

Robert Russell, Ph.D.
Principal
Learning Experience Design

Camillia Matuk, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Educational Communication & Technology
New York University Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development; Media and Games Network

Leah R Carpenter, MPH.
Consultant
College of Public Health, University of Nebraska Medical Center

BIOLOGY OF HUMAN

Julia McQuillan, Ph.D.
Chair and Professor
Dept. of Sociology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Amy N. Spiegel, Ph.D.
Research Associate Professor
Center for Instructional Innovation, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Patricia Wonch Hill, Ph.D.
Research Assistant Professor
Dept. of Sociology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Robin Gauthier, Ph.D.
Post-doctoral Fellow
Dept. of Sociology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Bureau of Sociological Research (BOSR)
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Social Science Research

UNDERSTANDING ADOLESCENT SCIENCE IDENTITY

Discovery Orientation, Cognitive Schemas, and Disparities in Science Identity in Early Adolescence.
Manuscript under review.
Authors: Hill, P. W., McQuillan, J., Spiegel, A. N., and Diamond, J.

Girls Rule? Fixed Mindsets, Science Gender Bias, and Science Possible Selves in Early Adolescence.
Manuscript under review.
Authors: Hill, P. W., Talbert, E. J., McQuillan, J., Spiegel, A. N., Gauthier, G. and Diamond, J.

The Potential Scientist’s Dilemma: How the Masculine Framing of Science Shapes Friendships and Science Job Aspirations.
2017. Social Sciences, 6(1), 14.
Authors: Gauthier, G.R., Hill, P. W., McQuillan, J., Spiegel, A. N., and Diamond, J.
View Article »

The Potential Scientist’s Dilemma: Gender Differences in the Salience of Science in Same-sex Adolescent Friendships.
Presentation at the American Sociological Association (ASA) Annual Meeting.
Seattle, WA. August 20-23, 2016.
Authors: Gauthier, G., McQuillan, J., Hill, P. W., Spiegel, A. N., and Diamond, J.

Social Inequality in Science Identity Among Middle School Youth.
Presentation at the American Sociological Association (ASA) Annual Meeting.
Chicago, IL. August 22-25, 2015.
Authors: McQuillan, J., Hill, P. W., Spiegel, A. N., & Diamond, J.

Identities in Middle School: Lessons from a School-wide Social Network Study
Presentation at the Annual Meeting of the Midwest Sociological Society.
Kansas City, KS. March 26-29, 2015.
Authors: McQuillan, J., Hill, P. W., Spiegel, A. N., & Diamond, J.

More than Competence: Science Identity by Gender & Race among Middle School Youth.
Presentation at the Sociology of Gender Brownbag (FemSem) at the University of Wisconsin Department of Sociology.
Madison, WI. March 19, 2015.
Authors: McQuillan, J., Hill, P. W., Spiegel, A. N., & Diamond, J.

Activating Adolescent Science Identity: Research and Practice.
Presentation at the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) National Conference on Science Education.
Chicago, IL. March 12-15, 2015.
Authors: McQuillan, J., Hill, P. W., Spiegel, A. N., & Diamond, J.

Activating Adolescent Science Identity: Research and Practice.
Presentation at the Nebraska Association of Teachers of Science (NATS) Fall Conference.
Fremont, NE. September 26, 2014.
Authors: Hill, P. W., McQuillan, J., Spiegel, A. N., & Diamond, J.

The Role of Grit in Science Identity of Middle School Students.
2014. Poster presented at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Undergraduate Research Symposium.
Lincoln, NE. Aug 6, 2014.
Authors: Torres, B. G., Hill, P. W., & McQuillan, J.
View Poster »

Are You a Science Kind of Person? Gender differences in Science Identity among Middle School Youth.
2014. Presentation at the STEM Think Tank and Conference.
Nashville, TN. July 16-18, 2014.
Authors: Hill, P. W., McQuillan, J., & Spiegel, A. N.
View Astract »

ENGAGING TEENAGERS WITH SCIENCE THROUGH COMICS

Comics, Zombies & Hip Hop: Leveraging Pop Culture for Science Engagement: Engaging Teenagers with Science through Comics.
2015. Presentation at the AAAS Annual Meeting.
San Jose, CA. February 13, 2015.
Authors: Diamond, J., McQuillan, J., & Spiegel, A. N.

Engaging teenagers with science through comics.
2013. Research in Science Education, 43 (6), 2309-2326.
Authors: Spiegel, A. N., McQuillan, J., Halpin, P., Matuk, C., & Diamond, J.
View Article »

The World of Viruses Interactive Comic Viewer.
2011. Hands-on demonstration presented at the Cyberlearning Tools for STEM Education Conference.
Berkeley, CA. March 8-9, 2011
Authors: Matuk, C., Cottingham, I., Farrell, K., Angeletti, A., & Diamond, J.
View Astract » | View Poster »

Heroes, Villains and Viruses: How Graphic Narratives Teach Science.
2009. Paper presented at the International Visual Literacy Association (IVLA2009).
Chicago, IL. October 6-9, 2009.
Authors: Matuk, C. F., Diamond, J., & Uttal, D. H.
View Abstract »

MENTAL MODELS OF VIRUSES, VACCINES, AND THE CAUSES OF INFECTIOUS DISEASE

Expert-novice differences in mental models of viruses, vaccines, and the causes of infectious disease.
2015. Public Understanding of Science, 24(2), 241-256.
Authors: Jee, B., Uttal, D., Spiegel, A., & Diamond, J.
View Article »

Students’ and Teachers’ Beliefs about the Microbiological Structure and Activity of Viruses and Vaccines.
2013. Poster presented at the Society for Research in Child Development Biennial Meeting. 
Seattle, Washington, April 18-20, 2013.
Authors: Jee, B.D., Uttal, D.H., Spiegel, A., & Diamond, J.
View Poster »

Mental Models of Viruses, Vaccines, and the Causes of Infectious Disease.
2012. Poster presented at the 24th Annual Meeting of the Association for Psychological Science.
Chicago, IL. May 24-27, 2012.
Authors: Jee, B. D., Uttal, D. H., Diamond, J., & Spiegel, A.
View Astract » | View Poster »

Mental Models of Virology in Experts and Novices.
2010. Paper presented at the 32nd Conference of the Cognitive Science Society.
Portland, OR. August 11-14, 2010.
Authors: Jee, B. D., Uttal, D. H., Crouch, C., Spiegel, A., & Diamond, J.
View Astract »

Understanding the Microbial World: People’s Beliefs and Reasoning about Viruses.
2010. Paper presented at Annual Meeting of the Midwestern Psychological Association.
Chicago, IL. April 29 – May 1, 2010.
Authors: Jee, B. D., Uttal, D. H., Spiegel, A., & Diamond, J.
View Astract »

Students and Teachers’ Mental Models of Viruses.
2009. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting for the Society for Research in Child Development.
San Antonio, TX. October, 2009.
Authors: Jee, B. D., Uttal, D. H., Spiegel, A., & Diamond, J.
View Poster »

Evaluation

CLC Microbe Maniacs Science Reporter: Evaluation Summary and Compilation of Weekly Write-ups.
2015. Center for Instructional Innovation, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Author: Spiegel, A. N. & LeRoy-Toren, S.
View Report »

Occupied! App: Pilot Testing. UNL iLab App Development Formative Evaluation.
2015. Center for Instructional Innovation, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Author: Spiegel, A. N.
View Report »

World of Viruses/ Biology of Human Website Usability Test Results.
2014. Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts, University of Nebraska–Lincoln.
Author: Syron, C.

Biology of Human Formative Evaluation: Youth Feedback on Occupied Comic.
2014. Center for Instructional Innovation, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Author: Spiegel, A. N.

Microbe Maniacs Evaluation: Summer
2013. Center for Instructional Innovation, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Author: Spiegel, A. N.

Biology of Human Front-End Evaluation: Youth Focus Groups on Perceptions of Microbes.
2013. Bureau of Sociological Research and the Center for Instructional Innovation, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Authors: Bureau of Sociological Research & Spiegel, A. N.

Biology of Human Formative Evaluation: Trial Testing on What is Human? Language Chapter.
2013. Center for Instructional Innovation , University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Author: Spiegel, A. N.

World of Viruses Summative Demographic Report.
2012. Center for Instructional Innovation, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Author: Spiegel, A. N.

The impact of long-form radio documentaries on listener attitudes toward, interests in, and knowledge of viruses.
2012. Informal Learning Review, No. 115. July/August 2012.
Author: Russell, R.
View Report »

High School Student Insights into the World of Viruses Graphic Stories: Qualitative Follow-up Report.
2012. Office of Qualitative and Mixed Methods Research, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Authors: Howell Smith, M., Spiegel, A. N., McQuillan, J., & Plano Clark, V.
View Report »

Biology of Human Front-End Evaluation: Nebraska Annual Social Indicators Survey 2010-2011 Methodology Report.
2011. Bureau of Sociological Research, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Author: Bureau of Sociological Research

World of Viruses Summative Evaluation Process: Testing the Pilot Study Instrument.
2011. Center for Instructional Innovation, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Author: Spiegel, A. N.
View Report »

iPad Apps Trial Test Results: World of Viruses Formative Evaluation with Middle Level and High School Students.
2011. Center for Instructional Innovation, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Author: Spiegel, A. N.
View Report »

Omaha Science Media Project: Compilation of Evaluation Reports.
2009-2010. Center for Instructional Innovation, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Author: Spiegel, A. N.
View Report »

World of Viruses Formative Evaluation Report: Trial Testing of Graphic Story, Cartoon Panel, Podcast, and Essay.
2009. Center for Instructional Innovation, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Authors: Spiegel, A. N., Struthers, A., & Carpenter, L.
View Report »

World of Viruses Front End Teen Survey Report.
2009. Center for Instructional Innovation, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Author: Spiegel, A. N.
View Report »

Formative Evaluation Report “HPV: The Shy Virus.”
2009. Learning Experience Design.
Author: Russell, R.
View Report »